OTR Interviews

Liz Cheney: Tumult in Mideast is a direct result of Obama administration's policies, shows what happens when America isn't in a position of strength

Liz Cheney on why the chaos in the Middle East illustrates the damage Pres. Obama has done to the US stature around the world


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Anti-American violence is exploding overseas. Now it is spreading into Asia. Demonstrators go wild outside our Indonesian embassy. They're burning flags and shouting, "We will destroy America like this flag."

So far, "On the Record" is tracking Anti-American protests in 27 countries -- Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan. And they're moving east to Yemen, Lebanon, Israel, the west bank, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates. And the protests continuing further east to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even radical Muslim groups in the United Kingdom and Australia have hit the streets.

This is spreading fast. Liz Cheney, former State Department official, is here to go "On the Record." And actually, at the State Department, you worked covering this region, right?


VAN SUSTEREN: Your thoughts tonight?

CHENEY: Well, I think that Steve [Hadley] is right when he talks about the importance of looking at the overall policy here. You know, my sense of what happened in Libya -- I watched Ambassador Rice yesterday say with 100 percent certitude that this was all because of the movie, and I found that to be preposterous.

I mean, I think that if you -- you know, at a minimum, you've got to say, We don't know yet. We don't know yet exactly what the spark was. But what we do know points pretty clearly to al Qaeda involvement and to pre- planning here. You know, it -- some reports had us at a four-hour firefight, RPGs, mortar rounds. Those aren't the things that are -- happen if this is spontaneous because of the movie.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, as you see this whole area imploding, it's profoundly distressing. We actually took "On the Record" to Cairo in June of 2009, when the president gave his speech talking about a new beginning. Obviously, this has now imploded all around us in the sense that, I mean, you know, Americans -- American employees in these embassies frankly just aren't safe. We know that. We've had four murders.

CHENEY: Right. Well, and I think that that speech in Cairo had a lot of language in it that helps you understand part of the problem here. What we're seeing is a clear failure of Obama administration policy in the Middle East.

But this is a president who spent many, many speeches, especially throughout the course of 2009, apologizing for America. He did it in that speech in Cairo. He said that after 9/11, we abandoned our ideals. He went onto foreign soil and really slandered, I think, the people who were running the government then and the men and women who kept us safe after 9/11.

But it's this notion somehow that American strength is provocative -- and I think when you look at the message that we've sent across the Middle East, this notion that we're pulling out, this notion that our enemies need not fear us -- the Iranians make steady progress towards a nuclear weapon, and this administration's been either unwilling or unable to stop them. On all fronts, basically, America is retreating, and you see what happens when America is not in a position of strength.

VAN SUSTEREN: But we couldn't stay here in these places forever. And you see in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries where we went in -- went in to those countries -- as we pull out -- they -- they apparently didn't want us there. I mean, there -- there's an enormous amount of violence in both those places as we pull out.

CHENEY: Well, I think you've got to -- you've got to differentiate. I think in Iraq, when President Bush left office, we, in fact, left a situation that this president could have built on to have the kind of secure and stable environment that, frankly, you know, we had anticipated.

The war was ending. The president -- President Obama decided not to push too hard to negotiate any kind of a stay-behind agreement. And so you've now got Iran ascendant in Iraq with no American presence there.

Afghanistan, a completely different situation, where the president from the very beginning started announcing a timetable for withdrawal, said, OK, I'll surge, but we're not going to give two complete fighting seasons, sending the message -- it's completely common sense. You don't have to be, you know, a brain surgeon here to understand that when you tell the enemy, Listen, we're going to surge but we're out of there by this date certain, the enemy's going to sit back and wait.

And in a situation that is as dangerous as those two countries are, for our allies to feel that they don't have a strong partner, it's going to be very difficult for them to stand up with us. So I would say what's happening today in Iraq and Afghanistan both, in addition to what's happening across the region, are in many ways a direct result of this administration's policies.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to ask you the same question I asked Steve. What do we do now? In light of the fact that this is the situation we have, if you were president, what would you do?

CHENEY: Well, I'd say, number one, we're going to absolutely bring justice for the deaths of those four Americans, and it's going to be swift and it's going to be severe. Number two, I would cancel the loan forgiveness for the Egyptian government. I would put it on hold right now. I think it's very important for us to work particularly with the Egyptian military, but for the president of Egypt to have stood by and watched our embassy be overrun, our flag be burned, the al Qaeda flag posted...

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and -- and he's -- I mean, he's chumming around with the president of Sudan this weekend, who -- most countries, I mean, are obliged to turn him over under the indictment! I mean, the guy's slaughtered thousands! He's still slaughtering right now!

CHENEY: I think that, you know, the military assistance ought to be part of a larger, longer discussion. The billion-dollar loan forgiveness ought to be canceled immediately. And I would make clear we are standing with the government of Israel and that we will not allow nuclear capability in Iran. And I would be asking for military plans right now to know what to do to stop that program.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu certainly is -- he -- this weekend made it known where he stands.

Liz, thank you.

CHENEY: Thank you.